March 12th, 2013
Inspired by the incisive reportage of our favorite Roman, National Public Radio’s Sylvia Poggioli, we realized, that we, too, had to give some squid ink to a burning topic, especially after the Wall Street Journal published:
“MARCH MADNESS, VATICAN STYLE: WHO’LL COME OUT OF THE SWEET SISTINE?“
The wonder is: WHY did it take us so long to recognize one incontrovertible truth? The German Pope Benedict XVI—now Pope Emeritus, whom many hold to be the living embodiment of sanctity— is “Almost Italian”!!!
Although we hang upon every word broadcast by our colleague Sylvia, cyber-journalists like us feel the penitential quality of attempts to cover breaking news from Rome when our local NPR station is imposing Pledge Week on denizens of the Tampa Bay region, regardless of their creed, race, or gender.
Meanwhile, the Curia has pulled the plugs (and chargers). No TV, Wi-Fi, radio, cellular or satellite communication devices allowed. No Android or iAnything. Linux? Carrier pigeons? Fuggedabbouddit…
The Vatican has gone dark.
The conclave swallowed its flock of 115 cardinals after sweeps for bugs and wire-taps and security pat-downs for every ecclesiast, including, of course, the Man Who Would be Pope. Extreme measures? Maybe not, for we heard a murmur that Sistine Security Forces had already confiscated a tiny voice-recorder from a portly cleric who claimed his device was a pedometer…
Adding to the challenges of the American staff of Almost Italian—it’s both Lent and Spring Break here in Florida, so we’re resigned to following the drama from afar. We’re stuck on the Gulf Coast, making marinara and serving a lot of Eggs in Purgatory to our visiting snowbird relatives, not one of whom, alas, wears crimson robes or has any access to the inside track…
Happily, the professional disappointment of being unable to provide live coverage of THE story of the new millennium is diminished by our confidence in two trusty Almost Italian stringers, both on the ground at St. Peter’s.
Returning from witness protection and a stint at our sister publication, WhiteSmoke.org, veteran vaticanista Michele Pezza, a.k.a. Fra Diavolo, reports that Vegas bookies are camped close to the Holy See and taking heavy action on a 40-to-1 shot, a self-effacing and little-known Sri Lankan cardinal with a taste for peperoncino. This, despite Sylvia Poggioli’s intelligence indicating that the field may narrow rapidly with a Brazilian and a Milanese as front-runners.
In an Almost Italian exclusive, Michele mixed sports metaphors (as well as espresso and grappa), sending us a private tweet from a bar around the corner from the House of Gammarelli, Sartoria per Ecclesiastici (Tailors to the Pope & Men of the Cloth). “Gamarelli will wait B4 downsizing Pope threads. Sri Lankan is bantamweight, lighter than Eddie Arcaro.”
Emerging from years of contemplation and Cayman Islands retirement for the thrill of this extraordinary assignment, Father Guido Sarducci, “GS,” is nonetheless, under deep cover. Commenting on the likelihood of a South Asian vegetarian as the next Pope, GS, whose investigative coverage of both clerical couture and gastronomy is legendary, texted: “Yeah, when Hell freezes over.”
GS gives credence to another whisper from the conclave: that beneath their official robes several cardinals are wearing 100% hair T-shirts printed with graphics and the newly decreed Eleventh Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Tweet.
Cardinal sin or not, like the earlier Big Ten, the Eleventh is bound to be broken. And when that happens, our guys will be there to report it. So stay tuned as Almost Italian continues with up-to-the-decade news, useless erudition, and recipes.
Eggs in Purgatory (Uova in Purgatorio)
At least 3 cups of My Grandmother’s Marinara
4 – 6 Large eggs
3 Tbs. Italian flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped, OR
6 Large leaves of basil, snipped
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly grated Parmesan
1 Lb. long pasta (linguine is our preference)
Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta.
Heat the sauce in a large sauté pan. When it begins to simmer, carefully break the eggs into the sauce, keeping the yolks whole. You may place a lid on the pan or regulate the heat so the the sauce does not sputter. Poach the eggs until they are done to your taste (we like ours to be a bit runny so the hot yolk blends with the sauce).
When the eggs are beginning to set, salt the water for the pasta and cook the pasta to the al dente stage. The eggs should finish poaching by the time the pasta is done.
Spoon a little marinara into the bottom of each of four shallow bowls. Drain the pasta and divide it among the bowls. Spoon another 1/4 cup of sauce atop each pasta “nest.” With a spatula or large spoon, gently lift the eggs and place each in the middle of a pasta nest. Spoon a little more sauce around the eggs and over the pasta (you may have some sauce remaining).
Drizzle a teaspoon or two of olive oil over each dish and sprinkle on the herbs. Finish each dish with about a tablespoon of freshly grated Parmesan.
Serves four as a main dish.